The construction industry is historically late to adopt technologies, but it seems, as of late, that there have been all kinds of amazing technological advances in the industry, making it inevitable that at least a few will stick. While some of these advances are still being tested and evolving, others are slowly starting to infiltrate job sites and make a huge impact, whether it’s labor cost savings, energy savings, time savings, or creates a more sustainable end product.
This infographic below was created by Gutter Masters, an Australian manufacturer and installer of guttering, downpipes, and fascia covers, and gives a great and visual summary of some of the technologies and techniques that you may be seeing on your upcoming job sites.
Below the infographic, you’ll find many articles that we have written about some of these products and other related technological advances. Enjoy!
3D Printing Articles by Construction Junkie
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.
Dubai is no stranger to doing historic things in the construction industry, especially since it houses the World’s Tallest Building, the Burj Khalifa. This time, their putting themselves back into the news with the Word’s first completely 3D printed office building.
Up until now everything that has been 3D printed for construction use has been done so in a lab and sent out to a job site and been assembled by humans. The makers of MX3D are on the cutting edge of autonomous 3D printing on location.
3D printing has been around for several years, but, up until recently, it has not infiltrated the construction industry. China has printed a few buildings and a 3D printed house in the Netherlands is currently under construction, as well. Now, the United States is getting into the 3D building mix...
Other Interesting Construction Technological Advances
Arches have been used throughout the centuries, but they have always required large amounts of form work (or a master mason). Now, at least when it comes to tunneling, arches require one of the largest machines in the world. The Zipper truck system, known as Arch Lock, is basically a mobile arch form work that, when used with precast concrete wedges, creates an instantly strong system.
Tablets have been finding their way into construction Project Managers' hands for a while now. With applications like Bluebeam, ProCore, and PunchPro, the use of iPads and tablets have become more common place and necessary. Currently, many Project Managers have a laptop or desktop PC and then carry an iPad for punch list during site visits.
As 3D printed buildings and structures continue to rise in popularity, other on-site robots are hoping to make a name for themselves as well. Long held to being indoors and in controlled environments, robots are now being designed by engineers to endure dynamic situations in the field, to deal with wind movement, bouncing, and other situations.
Hard hats have been around for over a hundred years now, but besides their higher frequency of use, they haven’t changed much. Well, it’s 2015 now and also the year that Back to the Future predicted that we’d be flying around on hover boards, so someone has decided to make something of the dusty, old, worn out hard hat.
There are a ton of tools on any given job site, which makes it close to impossible to be able to monitor where they all are. Not much can hold up job site progress more than rechargeable batteries going missing or not being charged. To solve that issue, tool manufacturing giant Dewalt is soon releasing a line of Bluetooth enabled rechargeable batteries.
If given a choice between being on a roof in the summer or in the middle of a dessert, I’m not sure which one I would choose. Find out what a team of Australian researches have come up with to keep roofs cooler than the hot summer air around them...
Unless you constantly work with 2D drawings, it’s extremely difficult for someone to determine what the final product will look like, which leads to tons of last second changes and a mad dash to finish on time. While Revit’s three and four-dimensional drawings are a step in the right direction, Trimble and Microsoft have an idea to get those models out of the computer and onto the job site.
Back in late 2012, a team of Dutch scientists began work on a new type of concrete additive. All concrete additives modify the physical properties of the concrete in some way, whether by making the concrete harder, set faster, or more resistant to cracking. However, what the Dutch team set out to do was to make a concrete that was "alive;"
With the recent release of Avengers 2, there’s no better time to discuss the world’s first bionic suit made specifically with the construction industry in mind. Unfortunately, unlike the suit Iron Man wears, this one doesn’t allow you to fly or shoot beams out of your hands, but it does show some unbelievable upside for the productivity of a manual laborer.
Remember back to when you were a child, playing on your living room floor with hundreds of multi-colored Legos littering the area around you as you attempted to assemble your dream house. Now, imagine doing that as an adult, but for real. That’s exactly what the inventors of Kite Bricks hope to accomplish.
On January 1, 2017, OSHA officially put into effect a revision to workplace injury and illness reporting that requires certain employers to submit recorded information of these instances electronically. Companies were to submit all of this information from the previous year (2016) by July 1, 2017, but now that due date is in jeopardy.
There’s no shortage of company’s trying to improve the world’s roadways. Asphalt and concrete each have their own disadvantages, especially when maintenance environmental factors are taken into consideration. Plastic is a major problem for landfills, as well, as it can take an estimated 500 years to fully decompose. One UK company believes they can solve both maintenance and environmental problems through the use of recycled plastic.
According to the US Department of Labor (US DOL), the construction industry has the highest rate of current drug users (15.6%) as compared to any other industry in the United States. As the city of New York grapples with trying to reduce their alarming rate of injuries and fatalities on construction sites, the New York chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has proposed that lawmakers add mandatory drug and alcohol testing for construction workers to the law books, according to the New York Daily News.
Feeling the pressure of 9 straight quarters with a decline in total revenue, Caterpillar has acquired the equipment sharing startup, Yard Club, to get help dig themselves out of the dirt. Their most recent quarter was the company’s first positive revenue quarter since November of 2012.
I’m a firm believer that before robots start taking over construction jobs, we’ll first be working with robotics to make workers more efficient and our job sites more functional. Instead of using 3D printing robots to build an entire project, why not use them first to create intricate details and bring character back to buildings? Instead of pushing human labor out of the way, why not use robotics to enhance the abilities of our workers, to improve their health and productivity? With rise in development commercial exoskeletons, workers will soon be able to harness additional strength by just slipping on a suit.
Traffic in Atlanta sucks, there’s really no other way to say it. So imagine the tough position commuters and city officials were put in when a bridge of a major highway on the north side of the city caught fire on March 20, 2017 and was damaged beyond repair. 243,000 motorists were forced to find alternate routes to work for the estimated 3 months that it was going to take to rebuild it. Now, imagine how thrilled they were when the highway opened back up one month ahead of schedule.
Last year, Tesla announced a new disruptive product to the market in the form of solar roof shingles. Unlike traditional solar roof panels, these shingles mimic the look of traditional terra cotta, clay, and slate tiles, creating a more aesthetically pleasing look. This week, the company began taking pre-orders for the roof shingles and also released a cost calculator.
The worst day on the job is when someone on site gets injured. The 2nd through 500th worst days are the legal battle that follows many of those injuries. Nobody expects accidents to happen, but it’s best to be adequately prepared if one does. That not only includes knowing how to react to injuries with a safety plan, but also making sure your company’s documentation is in order in case lawsuits start flying.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is constantly researching ways to improve construction process and materials, like this material 10 times the strength of steel, or this solar cell that’s lighter than a soap bubble, or this “reversible concrete.” This time the Institute is showing off its autonomous robot that can spit out building structures on site within hours.